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Jonathan Losos

William H. Danforth Distinguished University Professor, Arts & Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis

Jonathan Losos is an evolutionary biologist known for his research on how lizards rapidly evolve to adapt to changing environments.

Jonathan was born and raised in Saint Louis. He graduated from Harvard University in 1984 and received his PhD from the University of California in 1989. After a two-year postdoctoral fellowship at U.C., Davis, Jonathan came to Washington University for his first faculty position. While there, he served as the Director of the Tyson Research Center and the Environmental Studies program, before leaving in 2006 to become a professor of biology at Harvard and Curator in Herpetology at the university’s Museum of Comparative Zoology. He returned to Washington University in 2018 and was appointed as the inaugural holder of the William H. Danforth Distinguished University Professorship and Director of the Living Earth Collaborative, a partnership between Wash U., the Saint Louis Zoo and the Missouri Botanical Garden. This new biodiversity center, nearly unique in partnering a leading university, zoo, and garden, has as its mission to advance knowledge of biodiversity and to ensure the future of earth’s species in their many forms.

Jonathan has written three books, most recently "The Cat’s Meow: How Cats Evolved from the Savannah to Your Sofa," and is the author of "Improbable Destinies: Fate, Chance, and the Future of Evolution" (Penguin Random House, 2017) and one of the leading college biology textbooks (Raven et al., Biology). Jonathan has been elected to the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts & Sciences and is the recipient of many awards, including the Daniel Giraud Elliot Medal from the National Academy of Sciences, the Theodosius Dobzhansky Prize from the Society for the Study of Evolution, the Edward O. Wilson Naturalist Award and the Sewall Wright Award from the American Society of Naturalists, and the David Starr Jordan Prize.


  • –present
    Professor of Evolutionary Biology, Arts & Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis